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‘Glass’ Review Roundup: Critics Split on M. Night Shyamalan Sequel

After M. Night Shyamalan’s 2016 film “Split” was revealed to be set in the same universe as his 2000 superhero thriller “Unbreakable,” the director brings all the characters together in “Glass.”

The heroes and villains of the previous two movies return in “Glass.” Bruce Willis plays David Dunn, the security guard with super strength; Samuel L. Jackson is Elijah Price a.k.a. the evil genius Mr. Glass who has bones as fragile as his nickname; and James McAvoy returns as Kevin Wendell Crumb, the villain from “Split” who has 24 different personalities.

In his review for Variety, Owen Gleiberman bemoans the lack of mystery and discovery that made the first two films so special. “The movie, watchable as it is, is still a disappointment, because it extends and belabors the conceits of ‘Unbreakable’ without the sensation of mystical dark discovery that made that film indelible,” he said.

“Glass” hits theaters on Jan. 18. Read some highlights of what the critics are saying below:

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman:

“It’s good to see Shyamalan back (to a degree) in form, to the extent that he’s recovered his basic mojo as a yarn spinner. But ‘Glass’ occupies us without haunting us; it’s more busy than it is stirring or exciting. Maybe that’s because revisiting this material feels a touch opportunistic, and maybe it’s because the deluge of comic-book movies that now threatens to engulf us on a daily basis has leeched what’s left of the mystery out of comics.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty:

“Like his on-screen characters, Shyamalan has always grappled with his own special gift (which may also be his greatest burden) — his talent for delivering a gotcha sting-in-the-tail surprise. That playful air of the unexpected is mostly missing from ‘Glass.’ We’ve been here before, now there’s just more of it. Yes, it’s easy to be impressed by the world that Shyamalan has created and now fleshed out, but it would be nice if we were also moved to feel something too. In the end, ‘Glass’ is more half empty than half full.”

Screencrush’s Matt Singer:

“If ‘Glass’ was a standalone film, and the audience was meeting these characters for the first time — if the are-they-or-aren’t-they-superheroes question felt like a legitimate mystery — it could work. But ‘Glass’ is a sequel to not one but two different movies that proved fairly conclusively that these guys are pretty darn special. Shyamalan’s already shown us how strong David is, and how the Horde can climb walls with his bare hands. What’s the point of convincing people, and then trying to unconvince them? Would you make a Superman sequel where Lois spends 45 minutes trying to gaslight the Man of Steel into believing he can’t actually fly? That’s essentially what Shyamalan’s done here.”

Forbes’ Scott Mendelson:

“‘Glass’ is a shattering disappointment and a monumental artistic misfire from one of my favorite filmmakers. It is, at least, a testament to my belief that ‘Unbreakable’ needed no sequel. If that majestic superhero origin-as-mid-life-crisis drama was too early to cash in on the zeitgeist (which is, to be fair, part of what made it stand out all of these years), then this continuation is (at best) a decade too late. It adds little of value to its predecessors, offers nothing in terms of in-the-now commentary on its genre and actively pollutes the carefully constructed mythology. It is so focused on plot turns and story twists that it mostly loses sight of its characters. It plays like an inadequate (and underfunded) fanfiction sequel to ‘Unbreakable’ and a meta-parody of a stereotypical late-2000s M. Night Shyamalan miss.”

Slate’s Sam Adams:

“In 2000, ‘Unbreakable’ felt like an anomaly, a superhero movie that steered clear of camp and dug into the genre’s bedrock. It could have been thrilling to extend that approach into 2019, where superheroes storm the multiplex on a monthly basis, and there’s no longer a need to laboriously explain the culture behind them. Unfortunately, it seems that laborious explanations are the part Shyamalan likes.”

Slashfilm’s Chris Evangelista:

“As ‘Glass’ unfolded, I desperately searched for something to grab hold of, like a drowning man trying to snag a life preserver. I’ve supported and enjoyed Shyamalan’s work for so long that to sit and watch ‘Glass’ play out in such a sloppy, sloggy fashion felt jarring. “Have I been wrong this entire time?” I thought. “Is Shyamalan a bad filmmaker after all?” The answer is no. In his past work, he’s displayed a wonderful knowledge of cinematic language, and a masterful control of the camera. But none of that is on display in ‘Glass,’ which only has a few memorable shots spliced into a visually bland, flat space.”

Indiewire’s David Ehrlich:

“The trouble with ‘Glass’ isn’t that its creator sees his own reflection at every turn, or that he goes so far out of his way to contort the film into a clear parable for the many stages of his turbulent career; the trouble with ‘Glass’ is that its mildly intriguing meta-textual narrative is so much richer and more compelling than the asinine story that Shyamalan tells on its surface.

Empire’s Nick De Semlyen:

“Essentially a ‘Split’ sequel with an ‘Unbreakable’ topping, this is weaker than either of those films but still has a decent amount of entertaining and creepy sequences, most of them due to McAvoy’s high-commitment performance.”

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